Elegy for the Card Catalogue

A poem, of sorts, in which

new ≠ better & easier ≠ better &

analog digital analog

Some Background:

I exported my TBR from Goodreads and pulled up my library’s website.

Searching for each book, I record the call number and branch.

Creating a master list, I pause and ask myself:

What have I done?


Elegy for the Card Catalogue

Ipsa scientia potestias est – 

I drink from the fount of wisdom

& worship the ancients in temples

of brick and iron and glass.


I bow at the shrine of the scroll –

varnished oak and polished brass –

seeking a parchment

to slake my earthy desires.


I rise and see the desecration.


The shrine in all its glory, deconsecrated;

replaced with a plastic box illuminated

within by harsh, unnatural light,

accommodating one supplicant at a time.


The rows and columns of neat, square drawers

representing the heavenly order in all things

are reduced to a curved glass screen

filled with garish icons.


The cards, typed in pleasing face and bound on steel rods,

formed the vertebrae of human thought.

Now zeroes and ones take their place,

removing the spine as a berserk of another age.


Once we were given a name and a number

and sent into the wilderness: the stacks.

Who knew what dangers lurked therein, what treasure we might find

by happy chance or unique coincidence?


And failing in our quest,

return to the shrine,

each attempt strengthening our faith

and knowledge of the ancient paths.


Now the path is beaten for us.

Behold the scroll you seek and the form it shall take;

another devotee possesses it and shall not return

until fourteen suns have crossed the sky.


One need not bother going to temple,

its wisdom dispersed for all to see

in the so-called comfort of their dwellings.

You shall not receive a blessing on this day;

stay home instead.


What has become of the shrine itself?

Sold at exorbitant prices so the common worshiper

has no hope of rescuing the reliquary from

willful repurposing and wanton destruction.


The vandals relish their depravity,

declaring their actions for the world to see,

instructing others in their heathen ways,

and proselytizing many in the process.


Weep, for the old days are gone; we shall not see their like again.


Sic transit gloria mundi

card catalog

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